Compared with males, fewer females are visiting the youth centres in the capital that provide counselling services to those dependent on alcohol and drugs.
Last year 30 percent visitors were female and this year it has dropped to 10 percent.
The centres provide counselling to the needy and additional information on alcohol and drug abuse to the visitors.
Most of the women are into experimentation (initial stage and lack knowledge and skills to deal with substance abuse. Domestic responsibilities also pose a barrier to long-term treatment at the centre.
“Actually women did not stop completely visiting the DICs but they are fewer in number comparing with men,” said the Manager of Youth Development Fund (YDF), Tshering Choki.
She said women who use drugs are hidden, less studied, less commonly addressed and therefore and less educated on drugs, their effects, risks and treatments available. “We are not able build network and provide our services effectively,” she said.
There are two youth centres in the country (Nazhoen Pelri-Drop In-Centre is under Youth development fund) located in the capital and one in Bumthang valley.
Social discrimination and lack of confidence are also identified as major reasons for women not being able to visit the centres.
The centres are expected to focus on such activities like creating more awareness in the community and provide information about drugs and their effects and treatment available.
Manager of YDF, Tshering Choki, said that in Thimphu, people think the Drop-In Centre is a place only for like SUDs (Substance Use Disorders). “But we provide services to everyone. Everyone can come in and avail our services,” she said. “Everyone who visits the centre is not substance dependent. Some visit us to seek information, to attend psychological education classes, to engage in recreational activities, meditation classes.”
One girl who visits the centre said that some visit to get information. “I come here although I’m not an addict. I get information on the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol,” she said.
Until last year, there was a regular meeting among women but it has stopped due to lack of women coming here.
Despite these setbacks various outreach programs and initiatives have lead to support from parents, teachers and social workers on the importance of drop in centres.
Bhutan Youth Development Fund was launched by Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Tshering Pem Wangchuck in June, 1999.